An Ancient Cultivation Story: Seeing the Buddha
(Clearwisdom.net) Once upon a time, there were 500 blind people in Vaishali, the old capital city of the Licchavi. As they could not see anything, they couldn't perform any type of job. They survived by begging for food, and other people discriminated against them terribly.
Then Prince Siddartha attained Buddhahood. These 500 blind people heard the great news that Buddha was in the human world, and they could no longer stay calm, because they knew that everyone who was able to see the Buddha would have all their illnesses and sufferings eliminated, and all tribulations and vexations resolved. They got together and discussed this matter. They said, "How badly do we need to see the Buddha?! As long as we get to see Buddha, we will be able to see the world!"
One person who was usually the head of the group said, "Right! We should go see the Buddha instead of waiting here for Buddha to come to see us. Don't you agree?"
Others said helplessly, "How do we get to him? We can't even see the roads!"
The head of the group replied, "If we truly want to go see the Buddha, we must find someone who can see to lead us. Let's do it this way. We will try our best to beg for money and each collect one gold coin. By the time we have collected 500 gold coins, we can hire someone to lead us to see the Buddha."
Hence these blind people went to different places to beg for money. After quite some time and numerous sufferings, they were able to collect 500 gold coins, and they hired someone to be their guide.
The guide took the lead, and the blind persons lined up, with each person holding onto the clothes of the one just in front. They formed a long, zigzag line that looked very impressive.
Then they headed for Sravasti, where the Buddha resided. During the journey, they endured all kinds of arduous hardships, but they felt their hearts were filled with more and more brightness, and the journey became less and less painful. However, as they were approaching Magadha, they had to wade across a swamp in the mountains. The guide noticed that the journey ahead would be very difficult and found an excuse to leave the blind people on their own.
They waited and waited, but the guide never came back as he had promised. They were very scared and said to each other, "All our efforts have ended up in vain. That scoundrel took our money and left us. What shall we do?"
Everyone was frightened out of their wits, but the head person heard the sound of water ahead. He knew that must be the swamp they needed to wade across, so he asked everyone to walk in that direction holding hands. As they were walking forward by feeling around, someone shouted at them with anger, "You beasts, are you blind? You trampled on all the new crops I planted, and they are all dead!"
"Alas! We are really sorry about that. We are all blind. If we were able to see, we would not have made such a mistake. We beg you, kindhearted sir, to help us with great compassion and show us the road to Sravasti! A swindler has taken our money, so we will only be able to compensate you for your loss later. We will keep our promise!"
The landowner thought that these blind people were indeed very pitiful. He sighed and said to them, "Forget about my loss! Come with me. I will find someone to take you to Sravasti."
The blind people were overjoyed and could not thank him enough. "Fortunately, we have met you, an extremely kind person!"
The landowner found someone to lead them to Sravasti. When they arrived, they were very happy. Unfortunately, the abbot in the temple told them, "You have arrived too late. Buddha has gone to Magadha."
The blind people were very disappointed but found their way back to Magadha. They suffered a lot on their way, but they arrived at Magadha only to find that Buddha had already gone back to Sravasti.
Although they were exhausted, they firmly believed they would eventually be able to see the Buddha, so they once again headed for Sravasti. They were determined that they would not stop until they saw the Buddha. Sadly, they were not able to see the Buddha at Sravasti again.
"Buddha went to Magadha again." The abbot told them with sympathy. The blind people had to turn back to Magadha for a second time.
After they had traveled back and forth between the two cities seven times, the Buddha saw that their hearts for benevolence had reached the standard, so he waited for them at his residence in Sravasti.
Buddha's compassionate light shone forth and the blind people felt intense light in front of their eyes. Finally, they were able to see the Buddha they had longed for.
The 500 blind people all knelt down to worship the Buddha and express their thankfulness. "Buddha, you offer salvation to all those who are in the midst of suffering. Please give us the eyesight to see the light, so that we are able to see you, the Buddha who shines like the heavenly light!"
Seeing that they were so sincere, Buddha said to them, "You are so very pious, and you made a long and arduous journey with firm determination. I will grant you eyesight to see the brightness." The 500 blind people immediately were able to see. They knelt on the ground and gratefully said, "Thank you, Buddha, for your compassion! Thank you, Buddha, for your boundless virtue! Please accept us as Buddhist disciples. We want to follow you and worship you for numerous life cycles to come!"
Buddha said, "All right, my disciples!"
They became Buddha's disciples and they were very diligent in their cultivation. In the end, they all attained the status of Arhat.
Those blind people used to live in complete darkness, but their hearts were filled with immense brightness. Their yearning for the Buddha's Law shone like gold. During their journey to look for the Buddha, they did not waver in their firm belief in the Buddha's Law, no matter how much tribulation and difficulty they encountered.
Some people claim, "I don't believe in cultivation. Only after I see it will I believe in it." These people will never be able to see the Truth, because if their hearts can't see the Truth in the first place, what is the use of having eyes?
Some people don't understand the cultivators who believe in the Buddha's Law. They think cultivators are foolish, because the cultivators can't see the material benefits right in front of their eyes. That is correct. In that respect, a cultivator really behaves like a blind person who fails to see the beautiful scenes before his eyes.
Some people think cultivation is very mysterious and that it is not something for the average person. In actuality, cultivation is not something too mystical. You only need to have a pure heart to succeed in cultivation.